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Information Frictions in Trade

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  • Treb Allen

Abstract

It is costly to learn about market conditions elsewhere, especially in developing countries. This paper examines how such information frictions affect trade. Using data on regional agricultural trade in the Philippines, I first document a number of observed patterns in trade flows and prices that suggest the presence of information frictions. I then incorporate information frictions into a perfect competition trade model by embedding a process whereby heterogeneous producers engage in a costly sequential search process to determine where to sell their produce. I show that introducing information frictions reconciles the theory with the observed patterns in the data. Structural estimation of the model finds that information frictions are quantitatively important: roughly half the observed regional price dispersion is due to information frictions. Furthermore, incorporating information frictions improves the out‐of‐sample predictive power of the model.

Suggested Citation

  • Treb Allen, 2014. "Information Frictions in Trade," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 82, pages 2041-2083, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:emetrp:v:82:y:2014:i::p:2041-2083
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    1. Brander, James & Krugman, Paul, 1983. "A 'reciprocal dumping' model of international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(3-4), pages 313-321, November.
    2. McFadden, Daniel, 1989. "A Method of Simulated Moments for Estimation of Discrete Response Models without Numerical Integration," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(5), pages 995-1026, September.
    3. Mas-Colell, Andreu & Whinston, Michael D. & Green, Jerry R., 1995. "Microeconomic Theory," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195102680.
    4. Hillberry, Russell & Hummels, David, 2008. "Trade responses to geographic frictions: A decomposition using micro-data," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(3), pages 527-550, April.
    5. Costas Arkolakis & Arnaud Costinot & Andres Rodriguez-Clare, 2012. "New Trade Models, Same Old Gains?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(1), pages 94-130, February.
    6. Anderson, James E, 1979. "A Theoretical Foundation for the Gravity Equation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(1), pages 106-116, March.
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